Palin about to close deal on travelogue show for Discovery

Three weeks ago, Allahpundit wrote that the media got pretty excited over reports that Sarah Palin had shopped a proposal for a reality-TV series around Los Angeles.  Unfortunately for Palin’s critics, it wasn’t a “reality show” at all, but a standard travelogue program focusing on Alaska with Palin as its guide.  Washington Post TV critic Lisa DeMoraes reports today that the deal seems done, but pines for an Osbournes-like disaster instead:

After trying unsuccessfully to sell to the broadcast networks a travelogue series about Alaska that would feature none other than SARAH PALIN, reality-TV king Mark Burnett appears to be in negotiations with Discovery Communications about placing the Palin “reality series” there.

Discovery is expected to announce soon that it’s getting into bed with the former Alaska governor for this limited-run series.

Earlier this month, Burnett, best known for executive-producing CBS’s “Survivor” and NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” shopped the show around in Los Angeles, with Palin, to the broadcast networks for a reported price of about $1 million an episode, which is a lot of lettuce for a salmon-fishing and moose-skinning travelogue.

The broadcast networks appear to have passed because the show is not called “The Palins,” and it is not about Palin, her unwed daughter Bristol and baby Tripp, her potshot-taking nearly son-in-law Levi, her hot-looking husband Todd, and her baby with Down syndrome whom we all fell in love with during the 2008 presidential race, Trig.

“If it was ‘The Osbournes,’ and they were going to follow [Palin’s] family, then it would be interesting,” one broadcast exec said, sadly, as if mourning what might have been.

No, Palin was not about to create a reality show that would have endorsed every potshot her critics aimed at her through her family in 2008 and afterward.  In fact, this is only a “reality” show in the sense that documentaries are “reality movies,” Michael Moore’s entries notwithstanding.  Travelogues have a long and worthy history on television, and Discovery has some of the best, although the National Geographic channel has more claim to the market.

Will the Palin travelogue of Alaska be worth the reported asking price of $1 million per episode, assuming the show gets that price?  Probably.  Discovery will gain some attention for the sheer novelty of having a former national candidate conduct a tour of her home state.  Most Americans are unfamiliar with Alaska, and such a show would tend to close a cultural gap as well as a geographic one. I’d bet that Discovery is eyeing the potential DVD sales, too.

For Palin, the calculus is more obvious.  She gets to front a non-political, non-threatening series, presumably high caliber, that will increase her stature in a positive manner.  She’ll make money from the venture, obviously, although not as much as writing another book would bring.  More importantly, the project will help to make people more comfortable with Palin, although it may also increase criticism of Palin for pursuing celebrity rather than policy.  The prestige factor of creating this project with Discovery will limit that kind of criticism, however, as Discovery hardly falls into the same category as Spike TV.

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